HIV/AIDS scene alarming in Nagaland

August 7th, 2008 - 8:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Kohima, Aug 7 (IANS) Almost 20 years into the fight against HIV/AIDS in India’s north-eastern state of Nagaland, the Nagaland State AIDS Control Society (NSACS) has admitted that the state has a long way to go in arresting the epidemic. According to national statistics, there are an estimated 19,390 people living with HIV/AIDS in the state. However, NSACS says only 6,510 people have been detected as HIV positive till date. The number is likely to increase till all those infected with the virus are identified.

A statement on the status of HIV/AIDS programme in Nagaland informed that National AIDS Control Programme - Phase III (NACP-III) has been launched in the state to combat the epidemic through the NSACS with a four-pronged strategy which includes prevention of new infections; care, support and treatment; strengthening institutional capacity; and establishing strategic information and management systems.

In the absence of a cure, prevention is still the mainstay of the programme with focus on high risk behaviour groups (HRBG) and the general population.

Towards addressing HRBG, the statement said, targeted intervention (TI) is being implemented though NGOs in all the districts. The TIs work only with three groups, namely injecting drug users (IDUs), female sex workers (FSWs) and men having sex with men (MSM). The purpose of TIs is to contain the HIV/AIDS epidemic within these groups so that further transmission of HIV is contained within the general population.

Nagaland has a total of 38 TIs being implemented in all the 11 districts concentrating on IDUs. This has resulted in the reduction of HIV prevalence among IDUs from 39 percent in 1994 to 1.5 percent in 2007.

According to the HIV Sentinel Surveillance (HSS) data, HIV/AIDS in Nagaland is getting stabilised and is on a declining trend.

However, the statement warned against complacency.

“We should not allow room for complacency until we achieve our goal which is ‘to halt and reverse the epidemic’ in the next five years,” it said.

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